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'To the Wonder' Q & A: Olga Kurylenko on Goosebumps, Bruises, Malick and Affleck Fights on Cutting Room Floor

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood April 4, 2013 at 1:58PM

Olga Kurylenko got goosebumps in her first audition for Terrence Malick. It wasn't simply that the reclusive auteur was considering her for a leading role in "To The Wonder". Having flown out to meet him at his Austin, Texas base, she also marveled at Malick's uncanny intuition. "I felt almost a telepathic connection," insists the 33-year-old Ukraine-born actress, who burst onto the scene as a Bond girl in 2008's "Quantum Of Solace." "From the questions he was asking me and the things he was saying to me, he seemed to know everything about me and my past."
"To the Wonder' producer Nicolas Gonda, Romina Mondello, Olga Kurylenko and producer Sarah Green
Joel Ryan / AP "To the Wonder' producer Nicolas Gonda, Romina Mondello, Olga Kurylenko and producer Sarah Green

There's not much dialogue in the film. Was it difficult creating a character who speaks so little?

It's difficult to express yourself with your body, but therefore interesting. It didn't bother me, I loved it. And we did have text. He would give us pages in the morning. Sometimes it would be like 30 pages and other actors would be shocked: "I can't learn all that, we're shooting in an hour!" He'd say, "You don't have to." It never stressed me because I knew he didn't need that. It wasn't about learning the words, it was about absorbing the essence like a sponge.

Didn't you ever find it frustrating?

Sometimes we would start filming and I would feel the urge to speak and he would be like, "Shhh! Don't say it." I'd say, "But you gave me all these things..." and he'd go, "The silence is so much better." That's why his movies are the way they are. He loves you to think it rather than say it.

Do you have a favorite scene in "To The Wonder"?

My favorite scene is cut! And it's not one, there were like 10 of them. I did a lot of confession scenes with Javier. That was dialogue! Terry didn't mind me speaking then! I loved those scenes. And there were more fights with Ben, horrible, terrifying fight scenes. Apparently there was a version where it was filled with those and they tested it and it just terrified the audience. It was too hard, they had to make it softer. When we had fights, I remember I had bruises on my wrists. From what we shot, it was clear to me that Marina was meant to be quite hysterical; if he'd kept them all in, it would have been a very different view on this woman.

Malick is a mystery to most people because he never does interviews. How did you find him?

Warm, caring, sweet. He told me I was like his daughter. I would ask the First A.D., "What are we doing today?" and he'd say, "I don't know, go ask your Dad." Everybody was making a joke of it because he was so protective of me.

This article is related to: Terrence Malick, Ben Affleck, Interviews , Interviews, To the Wonder , Olga Kurylenko

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.